I. Talk about sex anywhere.
The most audacious act of public sex is talking about it. Sex is as delicious in conversation as food or music; it is as infinite as weather, and twice as interesting. Sexual conversation puts an end to small talk and small minds. It belongs at dinner tables and airports and church, and anywhere that people exchange ideas.
Some people think that sex talk is gossip -- that it's a rude joke, a calculated play. Maybe they've never had a talk about sex that was honest, or that ended with a question mark, or that was intellectual and even luscious. Maybe they've never talked about sex without a threat underlying it.
What could you say about sex today, to a friend or stranger, that would open the doors, instead of shutting someone out?
II. Take inspiration from everyone and instruction from no one.
You never have to worry about becoming a sexual imitation of someone else, because it's impossible. You only have to worry when you hide your true side, your fear at the thought of showing your joy at what delights you, or your despair when silence seems like the only way to survive. Erotic creativity is like a modern dancer -- she has a body, she listens to the music, she takes a deep breath, and she moves. No one can tell her which foot goes first, or how to bend. The erotic spirit listens and expresses, never memorizes or recites.
III. Appreciate the simplest erotic gesture.
The headiest erotic memories are from times never advertised, from moments that could not be packaged. Genuine beauty will arrive with great modesty, and yet with a perfection that cannot be reproduced in facsimile. Of course we want to make these moments last, we dream of manifesting them as jewels.
But the pleasures of possession are so fleeting. It is the treasure of your sexual creativity, combined with your lover's imagination, that makes erotic flavor last.
IV. Accept no guru's ego -- accountability is more cosmic than charisma.
The greatest gift that leaders can give to their followers is the opportunity to disagree with them, to have a vote, to remain a comrade despite disagreement. There are no sexual gurus who know how to make your erotic body happy with their philosophies, and there never will be any. The best sexual adviser is the person who is the best listener, who asks the best questions, and more than anything, who appreciates the chance to be fallible in public.
V. Give your erotic identity the benefit of your admiration.
I have never been able to post positive affirmations on my mirror. I can't abide those personal exercises where you look at your reflection and say, "I'm fabulous and that's that." I could never resist the notion that such speeches are all the latest trick from Snow White's wicked stepmother.
But I am not entirely filled with piety and humility. I do talk to myself -- without notes or reflective surfaces. Sometimes I look at my eyes in the mirror and think about how the fire there is always going to be in there no matter how old I get.
The best thing that ever happened to my sex life was when, by accident, I stopped making comparisons to others -- when I was momentarily distracted, and just let myself think and make love as I am. I was at my most content and my most thrilled. If I had happened to catch a glance of myself in the mirror, I would have been surprised -- because when I am involved in life, my activity animates my face and body in a way that could never be caught in a pose.
VI. Defy the quick description.
Next time someone asks you what you "are," sexually, tell them that nouns will not do. Deliver a story of the last time you were sexual, or imagined an erotic fantasy; and this description will be full of verbs and adjectives and even material that almost defies words. You may have to show it with your hands. Labels, every one of them, should be saved strictly for protest signs and sandwich boards.
VII. Kill envy with erotic kindness.
Envy will wrap around you like a vise -- and in its grip you will fear that you will lose, that you don't have a chance. You will circle the ones whose lives you covet, hexing them or vexing yourself, but you won't touch the fire in the middle.
Envy needs an un-convention to vanquish its tenacity. The opposite of envy isn't carelessness, it's compassion, and we need to cherish it. Instead of feeling smug or angry in your envy, you can start tasting your own fear. Only gentleness and forgiveness will allow that frightful taste to dissolve. Why can't we tell people how we really feel about sex?
Why can't we consider our erotic imagination? It's not because someone else has possession of it.
VIII. Claim your own fantasy life. Write it all down, every bit of it.
Many people do not think they have fantasies, or they believe their fantasies cannot be articulated. Others think their fantasy lives are so banal that it is easier to refer to a few generic descriptions. But whether you think you are fantasy-free or a walking stereotype of cheesy porn, if you actually recorded your aroused thoughts in detail, you would find you are neither.
As my friend Jack Morin says in The Erotic Mind, "Imagine yourself really wanting to be sexually aroused and for some reason you're not. Based on everything you know about your sexuality, describe the fantasy that would be the very most likely to arouse you."
IX. Make a recipe for fantasy revelation.
Masturbate. Tell yourself before you begin that you are going to track your thoughts and remember them, much as you might do before you go to bed, telling yourself that you want to remember your dreams. When you begin to get aroused, observe your thoughts without judgment or self-conscious comment.
Right after you orgasm, as if after a dream, reach for a pen and paper next to you, and write down every detail you remember. Describe the climax of the fantasy -- not your body necessarily -- at the most intense point of your erotic thoughts. Once you have written a fantasy recipe, read it out loud, and you will hear something that will surprise you in a most illuminating way.
X. Describe a sexual experience you've never had.
Imagine the taboo, the physically impossible, the offensive, and the just plain surreal. Become an erotic mind traveler with great glee and boundless tolerance. Let yourself be infected with others' sexual charisma -- even if you'd never do what they do in a million years. Of course you wouldn't!
Erotic mimicry is hopeless -- what's possible, and pleasurable, is appreciation and curiosity. If you can't empathize with sexual inspiration from unpredictable sources, you are turning a deaf ear to your own imagination, and your creativity will suffer more than you can measure.
XI. Decloak right in the middle of fucking.
Expose yourself. Say out loud what you're thinking.
For the longest time, I didn't know that sex talk was an instant aphrodisiac. I would write about sex, I would speak publicly and most graphically -- but in bed, I would never voice a word of my fantasies. With longtime lovers, this became even more inexplicable, since I shared so many other things with them, private fears and embarrassments. How could saying my sexual wishes out loud be so catastrophic, when they knew everything else? I was like one of those people who won't let her picture be taken. My erotic voice was my great secret, and I felt like my orgasm would be lost forever if I opened my trap.
My friend Lisa Palac was the catalyst in coaxing my erotic voice box out of its hiding place. She produced a record called Cyborgasm, an album of various people's erotic stories. She asked to tape one of mine. I wasn't to describe it as an impartial observer -- recording the "pillow talk" was supposed to be as hot as if it were entirely private.
I closed my eyes in front of the mike. I had never told a story so vividly.
At the end, I realized that my fantasy did not seem in the least diminished -- I felt high, in fact. At that point, I guess you could say I was provoked into going home and giving it a try with one very surprised lover.
XII. Make your own pornography, accept no imitation.
If you don't like what you see out your window, the most subversive and substantive thing you can do is to make your own vision. If criticizing sex is so important, then where are our role models? Who do you think is going to make erotic expression meaningful to you if not yourself?
Write your own story, your own lyric, pick up the camera. Stop arguing about what is erotic or pornographic, and show me the transcendental sensation.
Technology has put the erotic power of any production into the hands of lovers -- why not use it?
XIII. Never apologize as a submissive.
Forgiveness and humility are unusual and welcome graces. We are more accustomed to subservience, helplessness, and swallowing bile, all under the guise of "I'm sorry." Genuine sorrow is different from being sorry-full. The gift of taking responsibility is a bouquet, it's the opposite of a thousand regrets. Don't tell me you're sorry when you're angry, or when you're horny, or when you're indifferent. That's a wound, not a realization.
XIV. Teach your children privacy, in all its aspects, not just sexual.
Our kids do not belong to us, as tempting as that might be to think. Our memory that they came out of us is misleading because they are not our words, our thoughts, or our waste. They have their own imaginations that we neither create nor undo; they live in our house, but they have their own world. We can respect and admire their world by giving them privacy, tolerance, an appreciation for our own bodies, and a great feeling of love beyond possession.
XV. Expose your body to the sensuous elements.
Appreciate weather, from sheets of rain to winter sun to twilight humidity. Firelight, candlelight, spotlights, light of all kinds. Other people's skin, their face, their genitals, their hair around your fingers. Baby skin, and feather-soft old people's skin. Large balls of softness, and edges that might be too sharp. Things that melt in your mouth and your hands. Anything that stings. It's all pure balm.
XVI. Assume everyone is sexual.
To ever imagine otherwise is one of the most profound and ignorant forms of discrimination.
Your momma is sexual,
Your great-grandma whom you never even knew,
Her husband too --
Your precious baby, and every other precious baby,
That twisted-up guy in a wheelchair,
The thirteen-year-old with thick glasses and orthopedic shoes,
The incredibly homely person that you crossed the street to get away from,
Weird anorexic supermodels, too --
Anyone you don't desire,
And anyone you've ever put on a pedestal.
-- From Full Exposure: Opening Up To Your Sexual Creativity and Erotic
Expression, by Susie Bright. Copyright 1999 by Susie Bright. Reprinted
by arrangement with HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins